Press release

Local Impact – Hertfordshire

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Police Now officers tackling crime and anti-social behaviour across Hertfordshire

Thursday 10 June 2021

More than 3,000 fewer anti-social behaviour incidents in areas with Police Now officers – equivalent to 16% fall

Substantial decrease in burglary, criminal damage & arson and shoplifting amongst other crimes

Police Now attracts and develops the most diverse group of officers in policing

Police Now officers are playing a vital role in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in Hertfordshire.

Communities where Police Now officers have been posted for the last 22-months across the force area have seen 3,024 fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour compared to the same time period from October 2016 – equivalent to a 16 per cent drop.

Officers on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme have been working alongside their colleagues within their local neighbourhood teams.

As well as the drop in anti-social behaviour, communities have also seen 747 fewer incidents of burglary – a fall of 20 per cent. There were 842 fewer incidents of criminal damage and arson – a fall of 14 per cent – and 230 fewer incidents of shoplifting, equivalent to a 5 per cent fall.

PC Rory Farmer and PC Hollie Edwards of Hertfordshire Constabulary both worked on an innovative scheme to reduce thefts from cars. PC Farmer noticed that theft from vehicles had risen rapidly over the beginning of 2021 and that the problem was often as a result of car doors being left unlocked by their owners. With the support of his sergeant and colleagues, he ran an operation over two nights in which they tried over 1,500 car door handles. This identified 36 vehicles with unlocked doors, one of which had thousands of pounds-worth of tools inside. PC Farmer and his colleagues alerted the vehicle owners to raise awareness and prevent offences. They then published the results locally to raise awareness more widely and spoke with colleagues across Watford to let them know of the operation’s success.

PC Edwards recognised the effectiveness of the scheme and tried 2,220 car door handles over three evenings throughout her ward to see how many were unlocked. She found 103 had been left unlocked – one car in every 22. She then notified the car owners in person to encourage people to lock their vehicles and raise awareness of the issue.

She said: “Most were very pleased we’d let them know- and some a little embarrassed! Following our work, I noticed a significant reduction of thefts from inside vehicles on my beat.”

PC Farmer – who was nominated by one of his colleagues for the Hertfordshire Student Officer of the Year – added: “It’s important that all members of the public are able to see people like themselves in the Police so that they can feel that the Police are accessible. That accessibility helps the dialogue that will be able to have a look at why things such as anti-social behaviour might be existing in an area.”

Police Now’s mission is to transform communities by recruiting, developing and inspiring diverse leaders in policing.

Officers on Police Now’s programmes develop skills in leadership and problem-solving. They share a commitment to public service, fighting crime and inspiring social change alongside their colleagues.

Police Now has recruited a total of 1,830 officers across 33 forces in the UK, including Hertfordshire Constabulary. Chief Constable Charlie Hall has invested in his communities by partnering with Police Now for the past four years, with 43 police constables joining the force via this route.

Police Now consistently recruits more officers who are women or from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds compared to any other entry route into policing. Police Now recruitment data shows that, on average, more than half (57 per cent) of those joining the National Graduate Leadership Programme in Hertfordshire (2017-2020) identify as women.

“We’re incredibly proud of the positive impact our participants continue to have within their local communities, and their commitment to driving positive change with their colleagues so that everyone in our society, including the most vulnerable, have a chance to thrive”.

David Spencer

Co-founder of Police Now and former Detective Chief Inspector

Neighbourhood police officer | Rory Farmer

Q&A with Police Constable Rory Farmer

Neighbourhood Police Officer

National Graduate Leadership Programme Participant

Hertfordshire

Police Now is trying to increase diversity in the force. Do you think having a force that better reflects the community it serves helps to bring down crimes like anti-social behaviour and why?

I think it’s vital that our police reflect the communities it serves, and that has always been the underlying principle of how policing should exist. Having police officers from a wide range of different backgrounds and communities will only be positive towards increasing trust and preventing crime. It’s important that all members of the public are able to see people like themselves in the police so that they can feel that the police are accessible. Access facilitates the dialogue that will be able to have a look at why things such as ASB might be existing in an area.

What was the most important lesson you took from your training with Police Now that has enabled you to deal with crime / support your community?

The most important lesson that I took was to be comfortable being uncomfortable, being able to accept that you won’t always know what to do and that you may get things wrong is the best way to learn and develop. Once you’re in the uniform, members of the public won’t know if you have 3 days or 3 years of experience, and they will ask you questions that you won’t know the answer to. In being able to accept this and be honest with people, I’ve been able to leave my comfort zone to approach the right people who can give me the help I need that will better support the needs of my community and victims.

Have you implemented any new initiatives to reduce ASB or burglary crimes, or build confidence in policing in your community?

I encountered an issue in my area, and across Watford more broadly, in which theft from vehicles had risen exponentially over the beginning of 2021. My observation was that vehicles were being left open by their owners rather than being forcibly broken in to. With the support of my Sergeant and colleagues, I ran an operation over two nights in which we tried over 1,500 car door handles on my patch which identified 36 insecure vehicles, one of which had thousands of pounds worth of tools inside. We were able to alert the vehicle owners to prevent offences, and then published the results to raise awareness more widely. Due to the success of the operation, I was able to link in with colleagues across Watford who have subsequently used the same model within their own communities. Early indications suggest that offences of this nature have reduced across Watford since these operations have been running.

Aside from the Theft From Motor Vehicles Op, in July 2020 I lead a multi-agency warrant at an address in Watford following complaints from neighbours that a brothel was in operation in their neighbourhood. Neighbours had complained of streams of men coming and going from an address, and had even reported that their own door was regularly getting knocked on at unsocial hours. I liaised with our specialist team in Modern Day Slavery and Human Trafficking (Op Tropic) for advice, they assisted me in drafting a warrant which I was subsequently granted, and I organised entry to the address with colleagues and specialist nurses from the NHS.

We identified clear evidence that there was a brothel in operation and whilst we are unable to identify any offences on the day, we were able to ensure that there were no victims of modern day slavery or human trafficking, develop intelligence, and to give all the females present specialist safeguarding advice. On the back of this we were able to successfully gain a 3 month closure order on the address to provide a result for the neighbours. This prevented anyone except for very specified people from being inside the house whilst we worked to ensure that no offender would return to the address in the future.

It was a huge learning curve for me to be involved in such a sensitive operation. It required a great deal of thought and planning, but it was worth it to get a positive result for the neighbours who had been subjected to the nuisance for a number of years.

What has been the moment that you have been most proud of professionally in the last 22 months?

My proudest moment professionally was being nominated by one of my colleagues for the Hertfordshire Student Officer of the Year award last year. I have found that it can be difficult to see the rewards of your hard work, and that it’s so relentless that sometimes you don’t have a moment to sit and reflect about the work you’ve been doing. To be shortlisted, and then to be able to reflect on that was a huge and unexpected honour.

Q&A with Police Constable Hollie Edwards

Neighbourhood Police Officer

National Graduate Leadership Programme Participant

Hertfordshire

Police Now is trying to increase diversity in the force. Do you think having a force that better reflects the community it serves helps to bring down crimes like anti-social behaviour and why?

Definitely, I think the public are more likely to identify with a force that reflects the diversity of the community they serve and are therefore more likely to engage and cooperate with them. It also helps to have a diverse force in order to understand cultural sensitivities and differences and tailor our policing approach accordingly.

What was the most important lesson you took from your training with Police Now that has enabled you to deal with crime / support your community?

To never make assumptions or be afraid to try new ideas- just because something worked somewhere else or a few years ago doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you and your area. This means that for most initiatives, I have to come up with a plan B in case it doesn’t work in the same way or as effectively as I’d like it to and sometimes, plan B can work far better than plan A was meant to.

Have you implemented any new initiatives to reduce ASB or burglary crimes, or build confidence in policing in your community?

I recently undertook a project that involved trying car door handles to reduce theft from motor vehicles and vehicle interferences. I can’t take all the credit for this- PC Farmer, also a Police Now student, came up with the idea, I just made some small changes to it to fit the area I was targeting. To raise awareness about locking your cars and keeping your personal belongings safe, I tried 2,220 door handles throughout my ward over the course of three evenings and found 103 left unlocked- 1 in 22 cars tried. We then knocked on the car owner’s door to engage with them face-to-face, and raise awareness of preventative measures. Most were very pleased we’d let them know that their doors were open- and some a little embarrassed! Following our work, I noticed a significant reduction of thefts from inside vehicles on my beat.

What has been the moment that you have been most proud of professionally in the last 22 months?

I recently located two children that went missing from the local shopping centre. They had been missing for around two hours and the whole of intervention, SNT, LCU and some members of the public were out in the town centre looking for them. It was a big relief when I found them and I was proud that my colleague and I had been the ones to find them.

Data references

Using data taken from Police Recorded Crime Statistics, the independently peer-reviewed figures compare the 22-month period from October 2016 to July 2018 before any Police Now officers had joined their local communities to the period when they joined from October 2018 to July 2020.

The data presented here is subject to limitations with Police Recorded Crime Statistics and methodology. More details on this are available at the bottom of the following Police Now webpage.

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National Graduate Leadership Programme

Cohorts: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
No. of police officers enrolled: 8

National Detective Programme

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No. of police officers enrolled:

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